Hurricane season is approaching, and necessary precautions must be taken before any damage is done. Are you considering living in your basement during the hurricane? Is it safe?
Yes, basements are safe during a hurricane. They have a stronger structure and are protected from debris because of the absence of windows and being below the ground. However, basements are more prone to flooding, and you can get trapped by debris.
To learn more about how to navigate a basement in the hurricane season, continue reading.
Why Are Basements Safe In Hurricanes?
Let us take a look at all the factors that make a basement safer than other parts of the house.
Basements are often constructed with reinforced concrete walls, providing additional strength and protection against strong winds and objects being blown into the building. Additionally, the walls of a basement are typically thicker than those of other parts of the house, providing additional strength and stability.
Basements are more likely to be located away from windows, providing additional protection from wind-borne debris. However, because of the location is below the ground, most basements do not have windows installed by default.
Sump pumps are pumps that are used to remove water that has accumulated in a sump basin. The water is typically drained to a nearby storm drain or a dry well. Sump pumps come in two main varieties, pedestal and submersible. Basements are typically equipped with sump pumps that can help pump out floodwaters, keeping the basement dry and protected from water damage.
Preparing for a calamity is as important as knowing about the calamity that is to come. Planning means people are aware of the risks and have plans to protect themselves and their property. Knowing what to do in an emergency, having an emergency plan, being prepared with supplies, and staying informed can help you react quickly and safely to a disaster. Below are some safety measures you should take to prepare your basement for a hurricane.
- Clear out the basement of all furniture, boxes, and other items that may not be adequately secured.
- Install hurricane shutters or boards over the windows.
- Install a sump pump to help protect against flooding.
- Secure any loose items in the basement, including furniture and other items that may become projectiles.
- Move any electronics and valuables to higher ground.
- Make sure all pipes and water shut-off valves are properly sealed and insulated.
- Make sure all appliances are unplugged and stored away from water.
- Stock up on emergency supplies such as food, water, flashlights, and batteries.
- Install a backup generator to provide power if the power is cut off.
Is Safety Guaranteed In Basements During A Hurricane?
Safety is a term that does not go well with natural disasters. It is almost impossible to ensure complete safety in a hurricane, especially in the midst of it.
We have discussed the factors which make basements safer than other areas of the house, but some factors also put them at higher risk of damage. These include flooding, structural damage, loss of power, and the possibility of being trapped or entrapped by debris.
Basements are the most vulnerable part of a home to flooding during a hurricane. High winds can cause water to be forced into the basement, and heavy rain can cause flooding outside.
Basement flooding in a hurricane is a common issue as the storm surges, and heavy rains can overwhelm sewer systems, which can cause floodwater to back up into basements and homes.
To prevent basement flooding, homeowners can check their gutters and downspouts to ensure they are clear and not clogged with debris. It is important to keep an emergency preparedness kit on hand to protect your family and possessions in the event of a hurricane.
Basements can be affected by the strong winds of a hurricane and may suffer structural damage or collapse. Structural damage in a basement during a hurricane can include damage to the walls, floor, and ceiling. The walls may crack, crumble, or break away from the foundation. The floor may buckle, heave, or be flooded due to water intrusion. The ceiling may show water-staining, sagging, or cracking.
Loss Of Power
When a hurricane hits, power can be lost in basements due to flooding or fallen trees and other debris. Basements are particularly vulnerable to flooding due to their underground location and lack of natural light, and flooding can cause damage to electrical wiring and components.
To prevent power outages in basements, it is important to install surge protectors, which can help protect electrical systems from damage in the event of a power outage. Additionally, basements should be inspected regularly to identify potential hazards that could lead to power outages.
Being Trapped Or Entrapped
Basements may be filled with debris, or debris may block the entrance and exit, trapping you inside. This can be particularly dangerous if the basement is flooded.
If you are trapped by debris in a basement during a hurricane, your best bet is to call 911 or contact emergency services. If you have access to a phone, try to call a friend or family member to let them know your location and that you need help.
More Safety Measures To Make Basements Safe
Some changes in the basements that may require some investment but will pay off long-term are listed below. You can consider them in the upcoming hurricane season.
- Reinforce basement walls with steel frames to provide greater structural support.
- Anchor the basement to the foundation or framing of the house.
- Install storm shutters or hurricane-resistant windows.
- Install emergency power sources such as a generator for temporary power in the event of a power outage.
- If you do not have a sump pump already, install a sump pump to remove any water that may enter your basement.
- Install a backup battery-powered sump pump to ensure it can still operate during a power outage.
- Install a check valve in the plumbing system to prevent the reverse flow of floodwater.
The responsibility of mitigating the impact of a hurricane on your house falls on you. Ensure that you work with the authorities, cooperate, and do as you are told. Moreover, assess the risks and benefits of storming it out in a basement. Do what works best for you and ensures the safety of your loved ones and yourself.